Outside of religion, almost nobody gets as serious about the things they believe in as sports fans.
In fact, for many athletes, coaches and general enthusiasts, sports are synonymous with religion. Since the dawn of athletic competition, participants have tried to gain the advantage using various underhanded techniques. Now that many sports are huge moneymakers, there is more at stake than ever, and cheating in sports is going nowhere.
Many athletes use the excuse that “everyone is doing it,” and if they don’t participate they will be at a disadvantage. However, there are many good reasons behind the limits that sporting organizations set for competitors.
In this week’s edition of Bleacher Talk your sports editors discuss the underlying issues behind cheating, some of the reasons for it, and ultimately how far athletes can go before they cross the fine line between setting yourself up for success and outright cheating.
Cheating in sports can come in a variety of different forms. An individual can cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs or modifying their equipment to give them an advantage. A team can cheat by acting together to break the rules and gain an edge. Either way, it’s all the same – cheating.
In my opinion, there is no room for cheating in sports. Anything that gives a team, player, or coach an unfair advantage over an opponent is my definition of cheating, and I believe that eliminates a lot of the gray area. It is just morally wrong.
A significant reason that professional athletes and teams are such mainstays in news and general interest of people is that they are able to do things that most people cannot. Professional athletes can run faster, throw farther, and make plays on the field that non-professionals are simply unable to make, based on pure athleticism.
However, if it is found that these professional athletes and teams are only able to perform at this level because they are cheating, then there is nothing separating the professional athletes from us amateurs.
Recently, there have been very public instances of cheating, such as “Deflate-gate” with the New England Patriots, and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice admitting using “stickum” on his gloves throughout his NFL career.
Yet, there has been no repercussion for either of those actions. What kind of message does that send to both professional and amateur athletes? Cheating pays off in the end.
Not two weeks ago sports fans around the world found out that one of the greatest NFL receivers of all time, Jerry Rice, had cheated his way to immortality by spraying his gloves with stickum.
Headline news like this is extremely damaging to sports in general, and undermines the illusion that fans crave, namely watching the best of the best go head-to-head in fair and balanced contests.
I ask you, the reader, what do the following athletes have in common: shoeless Joe Jackson, baseball, Lance Armstrong, bicycle racing, Rosie Ruiz, marathon runner, Ben Johnson, 100-yard sprinter, Tonya Harding, figure skater, and Bill Belichick, NFL head coach? Sure, they were all involved in sports controversies of some kind. But the main thing that they have in common is that they got caught.
Sure, using steroids in baseball and mixed martial arts have angered fans and raised controversies. Deflate-gate, the Saint’s bounty scandal and college basketball game-fixing scandals have made headlines, but there are countless more athletes that did these same things and got away with it.
That does not mean that athletes should be doing these things, but if you feel like other people are cheating in your sport and you decide to partake, if you get caught that is on you. Athletes should not use that as an excuse. The rules are there to be enforced, and if a referee catches you with globs of of pine tar smeared on your neck he or she is bound to call you out on it.
It is my opinion that there is only one “too far” in sports, and that is getting caught. If an athlete is cheating often enough he or she will most likely get caught eventually. Sorry sports fans, but sports, like life, are not fair, and the more money a player stands to lose or make in a game the more likely that person is to stretch or break the rules. The fact of the matter is that the best great athletes of all time have some kind of competitive advantage, and cheating is just another one of those.